Category Archives: Irish craft beer

Porterhouse The Devil’s Half Acre 13.5%

It’s been too long since my last post back in December – @AdamShafi (an excellent blogger who writes about beery walks in locations mainly in Scotland –walkingandcrawling.blogspot.co.uk ) asked for some new Irish Craft Beer blog posts. I’ve been lazy tbh – so here goes with the strongest beer in Ireland (please correct me if it isn’t but I’m 99% sure)……

This is a barrel aged Black IPA, brewed with roast barley, pale, crystal, chocolate and wheat malts. Hops are Galena, Nugget, East Goldings and Liberty ( http://www.porterhousebrewco.com/beers-devils.php ).

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The beer poured like pitch black oil and had an impressive light tan head that slowly dissipated away. I was expecting a fair amount of alcohol on the nose for the abv, but it was fairly well hidden. It had mainly a quite rich fairly sweet dark malt aroma, some wisps of the whiskey barrel-aging (done for 6 months), a dab of dark chocolate in there and certainly some hops in there which had a soft dull citrus nose.

The flavour was much the same, plenty of dark malts, quite a rich flavour, the alcohol was certainly noticeable here and not particularly well hidden. I’m not a fan of beers with too much hot alcohol but it seemed to work fine in this. There was sweet dark fruits and raisin, fairly bitter hops and some slight floral notes. I liked it that the barrel-aging was fairly subtle – often I’ve found this, if done aggressively, can mess up beers. It had a rich body with soft carbonation and was quite sweet and smooth. The finish had a lot of warming booze – it did cross my mind that maybe the beer might have been better balanced brewed at a lower ABV.

An interesting flavoured beer, however, it didn’t come across as a Black IPA, but a beer hard to classify — maybe more as a rich ‘dark’ barley wine/impy stout hybrid (??…I know it makes no sense!) as it wasn’t overly hoppy and the malts weren’t very deep and rich – I usually expect a lot of e.g. massive citrus zest, tropical fruit hops, pine etc. over rich dark malts for a beer to be considered an ‘Impy BIPA’ . Anyone, forget stylistic classification and judge the beer on it’s own merits – it was decent beer, with it’s own unusual characteristics and certainly worth getting a bottle if you do come across it.

 

Galway Bay Of Foam and Fury 8.5%

Well, I haven’t posted anything for nearly 3 weeks, so I’ll be doing a flurry of posts during the Christmas period. The next beer I’ll be reviewing seemed to create quite a stir when it was launched in Dublin last month. I stayed over in Galway early this month, where the Galway Bay Brewery have 4 pubs. First visit was to the Salt House – unfortunately, the beer was sold out – I was told it would be in again probably around January (grrr!). Luckily, a subsequent visit to The Cottage pub, to the east of the centre (which has excellent burgers btw!) – there was a fresh keg of their new double IPA on…..

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(It’s not bottled…I was handed an empty bottle to enhance the (not great) picture)

Great looking beer, deep hazy orange, dense fluffy white head with great lacing. After a second ducking my nose into the fruity fumes this beer was giving off  – hey, this was something special – BIG tropical citrus fruits, lot of sweet fruity malts, grapefruit, pithy resinous fruity hops, lots going on here, super fresh too. All really good so far, hopefully the flavour matches the aroma (it’s so disappointing when this is not the case…).

WHAM! POWWW! Just as the aroma – big rich tropical citrus, fresh grapefruit zest, sticky pithy resiny hops, sweet fruity malts, quite a complex flavour, lots of sweetness, lots of bitterness – the balance was just right. And the booze was well hidden too. Not too fizzy, nice soft carbonation, full bodied, smooth finish with those intense bitter citrus hops tempered so well with a big sweet fruity malty backbone that isn’t overly caramelly (which I dislike, like in old imported US IPAs).

No doubt the best Irish beer I’ve had so far, and it beats many of the top beers in it’s category in the UK. Probably world class. If this is the direction ‘craft’ Irish brewing is heading there are really good times ahead. Another chink in the vast macro machine’s iron grip here in Ireland is certainly welcome.

Whitewater Clotworthy Dobbin 5%

Here is a beer from Whitewater Brewery, based in Kirkeel in County Down, which was voted as one the ‘Top 50 Beers in the World’ at the International Beer Challenge in 2007. The brewery has been going since 1996 and claims to be the largest micro-brewery in Northern Ireland. I purchased this bottle in Tesco, so let’s see what it’s like…

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The beer was a vibrant ruby brown colour, very clear with a big, quite fizzy, frothy head that dissipated fairly quickly away leaving a thin layer. The aroma was rather light overall, caramel malts, quite sweet dark fruits such as raisin and some tangy red berries with a dose of toasted malts. The taste delivered as was expected from the aroma. I got some more toasted malts, touch more tangy dark fruit, raisin and soft toffee caramel malts. It had a light bitter palate.

I found it a little fizzy in the mouth which gave a slight thin mouthfeel. The finish delivered more toasted malts, a touch of coffee and a few more light bitter hops. What I couldn’t understand is that it’s sold a ‘ruby porter style beer’. The overall aroma and flavour profile is difficult to pigeonhole – I certainly wouldn’t consider it a porter – more a ‘Irish red ale – Brown bitter’ hybrid. Again, I’d like to try this cask-conditioned where I hope it will have a bit more richness, but as it bottled beer it’s no way world-class, but worth checking out as it does have its own unusual edge a little way from the norm.

Franciscan Well Rebel Red 4.3%

The Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork was founded in 1998 built on the site of a Franciscan Monastery. Recently this January, Molson Coors bought the brand and micro-brewery to join their portfolio of other breweries such as Sharp’s and beers such as Worthington’s White Shield.

I saw two Franciscan Well beers in Tesco’s, Longford – the first one for review is the Rebel Red. The label states it has 1.4 units (UK) and 1.1 units (ROI) for a 330ml bottle at 4.3% so it seems I’m allowed a bit more beer here in Ireland.

The beer pours a red amber colour, clear, with a thin off white head that dissipated to a rim around the glass.

20131121_233833The nose has soft caramel malts, light berry fruits and a slight touch of red apple. The flavour is similar to the nose with soft quite light textured sweet fruity caramel malts, some soft berry fruits with a hint of red apple skin and a little hedgerow hop bitterness. The palate is fairly sweet malty, moderate carbonation, light to medium body and the beer carries on with the main flavour with some soft fruity caramel malts in the finish.

It’s a easy going beer with soft delicate flavours and one of the best I’ve come across in the style. I actually forgot that I tried this on keg in Sligo a couple of months ago – my rating was exactly the same as for the bottle tried today.  A good example of an Irish Red Ale.

O’Hara’s Irish Stout 4.3%

This dry stout has been brewed in Carlow since 1999 and has also been named as ‘Celtic Stout’. The last bottle I tried was out of date, so it’s time to try it again with a fresh bottle.

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It poured with a huge beige head – I had to leave it a little while to settle down before pouring the rest of the contents in the glass. Pitch black with only a slight amount of ruby light through at the bottom. The aroma was very soft – some dark malts, roasted malts, with a slight hint of chocolate – not a lot going on here.

Taste initially is of bitter roasted malts, burnt toast, some quite strong roast espresso coffee and a dab of vague plain dark chocolate under the bitterness with a slight layer of sweeter dark caramel malts in the background. There’s a slight woody note too and I detected those bitter bit twiggy hops in there.

The mouthfeel was fairly light and the beer was somewhat over-carbonated which removed some of the smoothness and the texture was a little thin (best to leave until the head has dropped to a thin layer). Certainly a bitter finish – some burnt toast crust, touch of coffee grounds, rather dry, with a lingering burnt bit earthy roast and a slight hint of dark fruit.

This stout is certainly around the bitter roasted end of the style – I personally prefer some dark malt sweetness in there and a bit more body in a stout – but this is made specifically a ‘dry’ stout. Overall, a fairly good stout but a bit too roasty bitter. I prefer the stronger Leann Folláin  – I have a bottle and it’ll be up for review soon.

O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale 5.2%

Carlow Brewing produce the range of O’Hara’s beers plus the Marks and Spencer County Carlow Irish Stout readily available in the UK. The brewing has been one of the first producing Irish craft beer as they have been doing it for around 17 years.

I picked up this bottle in Tesco’s, Longford. It has a golden amber colour, crystal clear with a frothy white head that dissipates to a thin layer with some lacing.

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It has a fairly hoppy nose, some grapefruit zest with a touch of grassy hop and slighty sweet cereal malts. The flavour has moderately bitter grapefruit zesty hops, light herbal notes with some mellow grassy hops over a fairly sweet caramel malt base. It is has moderate carbonation with a medium body that’s a little oily in texture. The finish has more bitterness with the sweet caramel background tempering the bitterness of the hops.

Overall, it’s came across as a fairly decent beer but perhaps less hoppy than expected (the Smithwick’s Pale Ale I had earlier on today had a better citrusy bite) – I remember having it on keg in Dublin in August where it was more fruity and hoppy with quite a citrus tang. I’m not sure –  this bottle may not be ultra fresh, but surely it should be from Tesco? I do feel this could score higher with even more hops thrown in.